Nepali Times
This Is It
The last straw


Just when we thought we were making progress on peace and constitution building, the Supreme Court's verdict to reject a review petition on the term extension of CA has brought the judiciary into direct confrontation with government and the parliament. 

The Supreme Court this week maintained that the CA term would automatically expire if the constitution is not written by 31 May 2012, and there is no reason why this decision should be reviewed or revoked.

Nepalis, frustrated with repeated extensions of the CA, overwhelmingly welcomed the decision not to extend. But instead of taking the SC's decision as a warning to finish its homework in time, the parties are lashing out at the Supreme Court as if it is just another feckless party. Ideally we should not have a situation where the judiciary has to push the parliament to get its act together. But people want someone to step up and say enough is enough.

The leaders have no explanation for why they have done nothing with four extensions in four years, while Nepalis continue to pay 601 very idle people to sit in the House. The parties need to wake up from their delusion of grandeur. They were elected for a task, they are the servants of the people, and they have been found wanting. They are not indispensible, and as much as they would like us to believe it, the sky will not fall on 31 May if the CA term is not extended. 

Not extending the present CA's term does not mean dissolution of the house. We will have another election, a fresh mandate and the CA would continue. It is clear that the only reason why the leaders are opposed to this is because they are afraid to go back to the people again.

The Minister of Law and Justice Brijesh Kumar Gupta took the cake to say that the Supreme Court should be held responsible if the country heads towards a political disaster. Bravo, everyone else is responsible for the mess we are in except our Great Leaders. Gupta and his ilk consider themselves exempt from any duty or moral obligation.

Before insulting the Supreme Court, the party leadership would do well to look at itself in the mirror. It is not the Supreme Court that is presiding over the most corrupt government this country ever had, it isn't the Supreme Court that has pocketed billions earmarked for cantonment fighters who didn't exist, it isn't the Supreme Court that is raking in 'pre-paid' bribes from civil service and police transfers. The Supreme Court is not protecting a convicted murderer in parliament, or coddling war criminals in the cabinet. The judiciary, despite its own internal problems, has for the most part stood up for the integrity and interest of the nation more than parliament ever has. And that is not really a statement to be proud of.

Critics are saying that the SC should have at least registered the petition, then gone on to decide if the earlier verdict should be reviewed or not. That is splitting legal hairs. House Chairman Subhas Nembang, a lawyer himself, should know better than most that a refusal of review is routine court procedure. If the Court does not find enough grounds to question the fairness of an earlier verdict, it may chose to reject request for review. And turning constitution-writing into a Ten Year Plan just because our once-elected leaders can't deliver is not reason enough for the SC to waste its precious time.

The greatest danger now is the prospect of parliament overriding the SC decision. If that happens, impunity would win and the judiciary lose. One by one, the politicians have destroyed the pillars of democracy: first they squandered the people's faith in the executive, then they made a mess of the legislature, and now they are slinging mud at the judiciary. They have demoralised the civil service through continual interference. 

Those who call themselves our 'leaders' should get on with constitution-writing in the time left rather than wasting any more time insulting the Supreme Court.

Read also:
Between laughter and forgetting, ANURAG ACHARYA
Let's hope 2012 doesn't turn out to be another "interesting" year

1. ushaft
This system has lost its legitimacy. Isn't it ironic enough that the legislature has to seek legitimacy from the judiciary and then complain when it's wishes are not granted? The supreme court is the only body that can interpret the constitution and it has more often than not done a good job at it. Including this time.

If the CA claims to be a sovereign and supreme body, then why not prove its legitimacy by political means rather than judicial? It lost its legitimacy precisely by its own acts. A constitution drafted by such a body will always be questionable.

The sad thing for us the people is that even if a fresh election takes place, not much change can be expected in the structure of the legislature. The political and social structures have been so corrupted and politicized that the amount of popular will has been rendered irrelevant to how this country will be governed.

2. Nirmal
Good Points!
This man Birjesh Kumar Gupta who is called the law minister, with two of his statements - 1) he claimed that many judges and law practicioners came to bribe him and 2)now this attack on judiciary, his two assumptions made me be clear what type of person is, he is alike that kind of stingier civil servant you can find throughout the public administrations of Terai when we go there to get some of our official jobs done quickly. At first approach he/she will say, "come another day." Knowing that this another day will not bear fruits people are left without any option rather than to bribe them to get the jobs done. When he/she is offered a very good money will say, "I'll think positively." When the bribe is not like he is used to, will yell at, "what do you think I'm !" Yes, That's what I mean, of course you are the stingiest corrupt official I've ever seen.

3. who cares

if the government and political leaders don't respect SC, then it sets a wrong precedence for other institutions like the army. the army too might think that it does not need to respect the court. what would happen then? a military coup 

4. Ekalavya Sharma, NYC
Bravo Rubeena jee, for your hard hitting article. I wish the Nepali Times had provided opportunities to voices like yours much earlier, rather than allowing people like C.K. Lal to preach their useless philosophies. It seems that at last, guilt ridden NT has started to speak in support of court decision regarding Ujjan Shrestha's murder case.

I was very disappointed when Himal Media resorted to scapegoating the monarchy and glorifying brutal murderers and terrorists. Rest of the Nepali media could also have done a better job by manufacturing political consent based on ground realities and not propagandas. However, when reputed media houses become agents for proliferation of illusions and blunders who do we look for the truth? Empty stomached Nepali laypeople who live from pay check to pay check do not have sophisticated tools to analyse the situation and those who have (i.e. Himal Media and Nepali Media) are deceiving them.

5. Vija Srestha
Mr.Bhattarai and Mr.Dahal ignored the SC for more than a decade during the war and got away with a clean chit. I think it is high time for the SC to prove its own credibility. It must stick to its decisions and the only institution above it  is Human Rights Court. SC needs to takes back its duties and responsibilities and act accordingly to protect Nepali people from monsters like Dahal and co. 

6. jange
Remind me, why did we need a new constitution in the first place?

7. Vija Srestha
Mr.Kunda Dixit is scared to publish articles which analyse, make predictions, give suggestions and make people think hard.  Even obvious predictions are left out my the media. For example, Mr.Bhattarai's petition to the SC is baseless, irresponsible and most importantly deliriously stupid. 

Also why does Bhattarai want to form a separate batallion? Is it because the youths are from untouchable castes or is he preparing another group of "communist-revolutionary" soldiers inside the Nepali Army or is it that the society must not be made aware of sponsors behind Bhattarai's and Dahal's actions? The answers are all too obvious, but I guess Mr.Dixit is instructed not to step on powerful toes and tread carefully or is it because he doesn't want to upset friends? ' 

The SC's reasons that induction of people from certain ethnicity deprives people from other ethnicity the right to join the armed forces and such a move will divide the national army along ethnic lines. However this reasoning is absurd, unacceptable and  shows the degree to which the SC is influenced by political big shots. SC knows very well that all national armies have strict codes of conduct. 

8. bns
Thank you Rubeena for speaking on behalf of millions of Nepalis who feel the same. All I can say is that  these politicians have no ethics, no morality and NO SHAME. The judiciary may not be the best in the world, but at least it tries to be fair and just. The saddest part of the whole problem is that it is the partisan supporters (all common Nepali citizens including ones living outside Nepal) of these corrupt, inept and shameless politicians who allow these atrocities to happen and continue. If the voters decide to punish those who don't do their jobs and vote them down in  the next election, things will improve a lot but that is not going to happen in present day Nepal.  

I still remember Dhungana the first speaker of the House after the first Jana Andolan who made so many nonpartisan decisions even though he was from the Congress. He drew so much ire from the Koiralas for his just decisions.  Everyone I talked to then thought that he was the most promising, ethical and moral leader in the parliament at the time. But that did not get him reelected. People of Kathmandu voted for a UML candidate and ended the career of such a talented and good politician. The latest joke is the Kangreesis asking the murder suspect killed in Bharatpur jail to be declared a Martyr.  People get what they deserve.

Most of us like to "beg" for our rights than demand it from the politicians, police and bureaucrats. We go to an office and say "Gari Bakshoyosh" when we need anything done that is our right. We have not realized yet that we should tell them "Ahilye Gari Deu" These politicians and officials are living off our money. They are there to serve us. We don't need any "Bakshish" from them. We kicked the kings out but we adopted their feudalistic language.  Until all of us  are willing to assert our rights things will never change.  

We let the Shahs and Ranas loot the treasury and suppress us for 300 hundred years before we rose up to kick them out. Are we going to wait another 300 hundred years to kick the present looters out for good?

9. Rishav
Once again Rubeena has done a marvelous job, very brave and courageous in bringing up issues which other journalist choose not to go down.

Ushaft has made a valuable point, "The sad thing for us the people is that even if a fresh election takes place, not much change can be expected in the structure of the legislature. The political and social structures have been so corrupted and politicized that the amount of popular will has been rendered irrelevant to how this country will be governed."

It would be interesting to see a poll regarding this matter of the decision of the supreme court, not just in Nepali times but nationally as well.

Even though a fresh mandate for the CA and parliament would be the most sensible and correct thing to do it still may not bring the necessary changes to an already corrupted and politicized institutions. With honest civil servants, policeman and government workers completely demoralized by such political open activities and interference something really does need to be done.

Solutions can only come by truly respecting the independence of all these government institutions, by all political denominations with effective punishment to those who wish to influence it by illegal means and no political pardoning.

I believe seperate elections should be done one for the CA and one for parliament as obviously combining the two doesn't seem to bring  a successful outcome.

The CA has shown to be a waste of time, ineffectual, extremely corrupt and a shouting house for those with very extreme views.  It would probably take 10 years or more at the current rate to write a constitution but the country can not wait for that and needs a Parliament to lead the way now. Parlaiment focusing only on the problems and development in the country and CA purely focusing on writing the constitution.

10. John Kelleher

Kudos to you, Ms. Mahato - your offerings in the NT are always a refreshing blend of fresh-faced candor and common sense.  This article is a standout specimen.

No words are too strong for castigating the present crop of partisan timeservers in Nepal's legislative body.  Netas like Gupta who complain about the SC's determination to make the CA's 4th extension its last are missing the obvious point to be made here: the CA's term should never have been extended in the first place.  That organ's mandate expired on May 28, 2010.  The Interim Constitution (representing whatever democratic legitimacy it may purport to) stipulated that the CA's term could be extended only in the event of a national state of emergency being declared.

This was never done.  Instead, the CA's term was extended four times by flagrant and outrageous abuse of procedure, the first two occasions occuring *after* the legislature's stipulated lapse.  What has Nepal gained from these extensions?  Nothing.... only the same dysfunctional stalemate that kept the CA from accomplishing anything meaningful in its first two years.

Things aren't going to change with less than five months to go.  A fresh election with a new mandate is the only option after 5/28/2012.  Almost certainly the UCPN-M will carry this election also, and very likely by a larger margin than before.  Five and a half years of weak-kneed vacillation and mind-boggling stupidity on the part of the mainstream parties have been worse than useless at checking the expansion of Maoist affiliate groups.  Maobadi coercion and a crisis of legitimacy in Nepal's political mainstream make any election in 2012 an all-but-foregone conclusion.

If there is any silver lining in that particular cloud, it is that Nepal's unique geopolitical exigencies are seldom kind to any political force that seems poised to establish monopolistic hegemony over every other political element in Nepal.  The King learned this lesson with rather badly-burnt fingers in 2006.  Cold winds blowing from both North and South are early warning signs that the Maoists are due for the same lesson.

11. Vija Srestha
I agree with everything Ms.Mahato has said in her article and I think she has done a brilliant job ,as she has the ability to analize fully and not cover it with the coating, however I expect from her as the journalist to go one step further,roll up the sleeves and follow through ,job of the journalist is not just to make aware ,saying you have a freedon of speech doesn't mean you have it,or saying ,one is sorry,doesn't mean it goes away,it is  the implementation and action taken and consistency in doing and practicing it every day,is what makes it root ,it is like planting a tree that would grow for centuries with strong roots and if we want it and know how to do it and follow through with it,that;s what brings results Ms.Mahato.
Thank you Ms.Mahato

12. L. Wolfe

Bravo, Ms. Mahato.

We all have the responsibility to stand behind good and honest candidates for fresh election and promote them to the those who may not understand the ramifications of voting for candidates wreaking of corruption and self-serving goals.  Please make this commitment to our country.

13. Dhana
Well put, Rubeena. 

A very interesting peace. 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)